Pathways to Freedom: Maryland and the Underground Railroad
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James Pennington
Harriet Tubman
Frederick Douglass
Caroline Hammond
Josiah Henson
Charles Ball
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James Pennington

James Pennington was an abolitionist. He was born a slave in Maryland. As a young man he worked as a stonemason and blacksmith. In 1827, when he was about twenty years old, he escaped to Pennsylvania. There, a friendly Quaker took him in. The Quaker taught him to read and write. The Fugitive Blacksmith is his autobiography. It was published in a magazine called the Afro-American in 1859.

  Read and listen to the entire passage from James Pennington's autobiography. Go to the interactive »
(Clicking on the link will open a new browser window)
Note: The audio you will hear is a dramatic reading of the text.

Look at a short section of the narrative:

  • What slaves on a tobacco plantation might do on a Sunday afternoon in November.

  • How Pennington felt on the day of his escape.

  • What Pennington thought might happen to his family after he left.

  • If Pennington knew what direction to take to freedom or how far he had to go.

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